Regulation Officer, BIONEXT
Council Member, IFOAM EU
About 13 years ago I started working for the organic farming sector in public education and advocacy work at different organizations, and for all sorts of farmers groups. I worked year after year with dairy farmers, arable farmers, and greenhouse producers. I experienced that for an organic farmer, the link with the soil is indeed one of the most important aspects of organic farming. It is what ties the organic sector together, and determines a large part of its production rules. This is true for an arable farmer who has to prevent soil compaction, stimulate soil biodiversity, and promote soil fertility, if he or she wants to achieve good crops. And this is also true for a poultry farmer who has to maintain an attractive outdoor run for his or her poultry, and has to make sure that the chicken manure ends up on organic land. And it is true for a greenhouse grower, who needs to feed the soil that feeds the plants.
In the high-tech world that greenhouse horticulture has become, people tend to forget that greenhouse growers are subject to this general approach, just as other farmers are. I am convinced that this focus on soil is a true strength of the organic sector. Setting soil and soil quality as the basis of your production system makes you responsible for what you do with this resource. This limitation, as some would call it, leads to innovation. It leads to in-depth knowledge of how the soil works, innovation in machinery, and in water giving strategies. Knowledgeable growers use this shared basis of action to produce sustainable products that consumers all over the world like to buy.